OUTDOORS: Squirrel season now open

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

For Missouri hunters wanting an excuse to spend some time in the woods even though spring turkey season is now over, squirrel season opened statewide last Saturday (May 22).

Young-of-the-year squirrels should be grown enough to be “eating size,” and they are a lot more tender than older ones.

Trees are now pretty much leafed out, so spotting a squirrel in a tree top might be difficult, but there are a lot of them out there.

Their season is lengthy, lasting until Feb. 15, 2022, and the limit is liberal, ten per day and 20 in possession.

Allowed methods include shotguns, rifles, and other legal firearms, as well as archery, slingshots or atlatls. You should use the applicable permit, including daily small game, small game hunting and fishing, small game hunting, or archery hunting.

They also may be taken with cage-style traps during the hunting season, as long as hunters have valid permits. Traps must be labeled with the hunter’s full name and address or Conservation Number, be attended daily, and have an opening of 144 square inches or smaller.

Hunting squirrels appeals more to me than trapping, but some folks might like trapping and not having to remove lead shot from their squirrel meat before eating.

 Because heavy leaf cover makes them hard to spot, especially when moving fast through the trees, many hunters prefer to use shotguns and “wing shoot” running squirrels.

Because I grew up in Iowa, where squirrel season didn’t open until fall, I learned to squirrel hunt with a .22 rifle and I still prefer to hunt them that way. I also don’t like shotgun pellets in my fried squirrel, although I never objected to them in my quail.

After much practice, when I was younger, I often hunted squirrels with a .22 handgun, which is a pretty good test of your shooting ability.

With its long season, liberal daily limit, and abundance of game, squirrel hunting provides lots of outdoor opportunity when almost no other hunting seasons are open.

There’s no shortage of squirrels in Missouri, so finding a place to hunt them is not a problem. The main drawback is summer’s hot, humid weather.

Heavy woods has little breeze and you’ll get pretty hot, plus the insects that bite are ready for a feast on your body. These woods are usually full of ticks, so be sure to spray your clothes thoroughly before heading out to hunt.

All you’ll need for equipment is insect spray, your chosen firearm or bow, a pocketful of shells or a quiver of arrows, and maybe a canteen of water. Have fun!

Missouri’s south Missouri black bass season also opened May 22, but north Missouri waters and statewide impoundments are open to bass fishing all year.

The limit on bass is six (6) daily, except for specific waters posted differently. Additional regulations, such as slot limits and a 12-inch limit on rivers and streams, may apply.

I guess you could bring along a rod, reel and tackle box on your squirrel-hunting trip and enjoy a “combo” hunting and fishing experience.

Whether hunting, fishing, or maybe just hiking, get outdoors and enjoy it all year long. Be safe!

(Bill Wehrle’s “Outdoors” column appears in the C-T every Saturday)